What’s a hat worth? Why customer service has no price

With customer service , it’s the little things.

Left my hat at the restaurant the other. I left it because I broke routine (not good): I usually hang my hat on my chair in a restaurant, but this time too many people kept bumping and knocking it on the floor, so my wife grabbed it and set it by her against the wall. Of course we both forgot it. Back home, of course, “Where’s my hat!”

So I called the restaurant. “Can’t hear you, too much noise,” the guy said. So, I repeated, louder, “I left my hat. In the back right room, against the wall. Ask our waiter. He knows. “Two seconds later, “Sorry, no hat here.” Click.

So I called back. Same guy. “I need my hat. Please ask the waiter where our table was, and it’ll be right there.”  Nope, he’s done with me: “Call back after two O’clock, and maybe the cleaning crew will find it.”  Click.

Ten minutes later, I walk into the restaurant straight to our table, and the guy sitting by the wall kindly reaches down and finds my hat.

Mr. Restaurant Manager, you just lost a client.

My thoughts for the manager include:

  • If you don’t care about my hat, do you care about the quality of my food? Or the accuracy of the check?
  • You have no idea why that hat is important to me. You didn’t need to ask, but you ought to have assumed it since I took the time to call you.
  • Since you asked, here’s why: rushing and discombobulated (and breaking habits) I left my favorite hat in a cab at the airport. (Won’t use that cab service again: they just kept my hat). My wife knows I love that hat. Without asking me about it, she bought me another one and carefully packed and brought it back to me onboard another flight. That hat is her expression of love.
  • I want my hat back.

The Little Things Matter

So, Mr. Restaurant Manager, that hat is more important to me than that okay meal I had at your place. Nice place, enjoyed it. Very busy, must be popular. Hope you stay that way, but you’ll have to stay that way without me.

If you think I’m petty over my hat, perhaps, but here’s a thought about “a little thing” from a member of an organization that truly needs the little things done right or lives will be lost:

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task–mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs–but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

From commencement address to graduates at his alma mater, University of Texas at Austin by former SEAL, Admiral William H. McRaven.

Our Students, Our Service

I hope that at The A+ Club, we are getting the little things, as well as the big things, done right. I hope so, and if we’re not I should hope to hear from our clients. We can’t nor do we want to do everything, as our service has a specific scope, purpose, and price. But…

We sure want to do the things we do– right. Especially the little things, because I know that they can matter the most.

I hope our students take this to heart, as well. Think over Admiral McRaven’s advice: big success starts small.

Did you make your bed today?

– Michael

PS Here for my hat from National Geographic store. I love my hat! (And my wife.)